Art Design & Visuals: 5/5
Voices & Sounds: 4/5
Atmosphere & Immersion: 4/5
...is a lie.
We all broke our brains wide open on this one in my Freshman dorm.
Short, simple fun. But you probably already knew that.
The foundation for the definitive puzzle game experience. While the game is light on narrative and runs out of gas during the third act, its ability to challenge the mind of the player is second to only its sequel.
The Cake is real ❤️
Quick but fun puzzle game.
made me like puzzle games
I think that if there is any art-form that successfully reflects the condition of living under late-capitalism, that would be videogames (what a start, I know lol, but hear me out). There is always this idea of control that a player has when going through the experience. The feeling that you are the one that has the freedom to do whatever you want. That you have a choice over your actions and that whatever you are lead to, is because of your own interests. Since you are the one controlling this figure and making everything that seems relevant in this world.
However, you are never truly in control of your actions because everything you do in the virtual space has been predetermined and calculated by people above you who designed this system. You’re directed to perform certain tasks that they want you to, while others you’re limited to because they either didn’t plan for you to use the system in that way or because they went out of their way for you to not do that which you’re trying. Agency is nothing more than an illusion that any game sets on you because you are not doing more than what they ask you or what they allow you. The system was designed by them, and you are not doing more so than acting under its restrictions.
Some videogames, like for example those in the sandbox genre, capitalize on the power fantasy of being free. They sell you the idea that you are going to be allowed to do whatever you want. That you’re going to indulge in your wildest wishes and accomplish them. Living in this space as if it was reality and ascending in a hierarchy until you, as the exceptional you are, end on the top.
However, that cannot be seen as nothing more than dishonest because in the end video game are always limited. There are many tasks you cannot perform in GTA V, for example. No matter how much they thought it out, the system can only account for what the creators set up, along some outsiders that are produced out of its failures more than anything else. They might make it seem as freedom, but it is nothing more than the fantasy of freedom. (Not something that makes the games bad necessarily as there is still value in the illusion, but there is no denying in what it is).
And even without that, those very same sandbox games, ironically enough, end up having very linear and hermetic story modes in which you’re strictly told what to do. The instructions are clear and there is not space for the player to take a different path for that target. The contrast in the process reveals the farce of the surrenders and that you never had any freedom in the first place. The control is taken away from you from the start and the only things you can do are things you are asked to do.
The existence of this aesthetic hegemony of games that favor false freedom and saturation of options to hide your lack of agency only makes it more interesting when a game comes out and sets itself to be conscious about the conditions you are put in as player. Hotline Miami being one I recently talked about, but on the other hand there is also, among many others, Portal.
Interestingly enough, a game that was created few years after Half Life 2 by the same company. That one founding itself in empowering oneself against the system through revolution, just for your efforts to become meaningless. Despite how much other characters in the game try to enhance you as myth, you are nothing more than a puppet for a supernatural entity that decides to put you in this scenario just to take you as soon as you finished your task. Portal is not too distant, but I would argue its use of symbols to evoke similar territory is more sophisticated.
You wake up in a room with no information about yourself, and right away, a machine guides you through tests that you have to pass (while not being given an explanation). From that point on everything you perform in this space, every gesture and every action is instructed directly by the machine, who gives you information about how to solve the scenarios. You might be the one resolving the set pieces, but it is not too different from a laboratory rat that is promised a cheese at the end of the maze (in your case, a cake). The scenarios were designed by them for you to resolve in only one way, and there is nothing you can do in response other than obey. A brilliant touch to demonstrate this is how at the start the portals are put by the machine for you to solve the puzzles instead of giving you the gun and the two kind of portals right away.
Something that, on one hand is functional from a design standpoint. Since it allows the player to get used to the systems. Leaving a space between every element you are given so you can assimilate the information, giving a sense of there being a difficulty and complexity curve increasing at your pace. However, symbolically, it already presents the element about lack of agency revealing the fakery of it all. That the scenarios are artificially constructed for you with a single path to cross.
The dynamic of control that the machine GLaDOS has on you, however, changes halfway through. When you stop being useful to her and her tasks, she attempts to murder you. You served her interests and since you were nothing more than a tool now you have to be thrown away like many others before you. That is the point in which you rebel against your position. You stop being submissive, and you start using the gun to create portals where GLaDOS did not plan. You move behind the red curtain where you see everything going on to make the puzzles possible. In dark industrial places characterized by its violent cylinders that smash the walls and give little room for motion and comfort. Contrasting with the clean and polished places you are presented for the tests.
You do what it was not planned for you to do. You take what you are learned (with help of efforts by someone that preceded you and suffered in the same environment) and apply it without being told by a superior what to do and how to do it. In fact, you assert dominance by repeatedly doing the opposite of what you are told. The oppression reached such point of violence that now the only solution is to fight back. Which is very interesting in how the game applies it in multiple ways, including especially that you kill GLaDOS by using the missiles of her gun turret against her with the portals.
Like by the end of Half Life 2, there is a sense of empowerment in this comeback. You do not only fight back, you are even better with you tools that you were before. Now that you are at your peak, nothing can stop you from achieving the emancipation of the powers that repress you. However, through a melancholy finale, that empowerment is recontextualized as futility. And for Portal specifically, that gives sense to its individualist focus throughout the journey.
You might have successfully defeated the one machine that was gaslighting you, manipulating you and controlling you, but such effort was meaningless. So concentrated into a single being that it practically produces zero material effects outside of the little story you lived.
You see the woods; you see nature after having seen exclusively the mechanical. But an unknown robot takes your body to pull you back into the structure. Because the structure is still there, and you cannot change it by destroying one individual. You are back in your submission, probably to repeat the cycle of tests and control.
Is a more than functional exploration of corporative control against human interests, neoliberalism advancing towards structures that are more detached and cold, resulting in the further alienation of the people. Moreover, it is even more successful as a metaphor for games and the dynamics between creator, player and the game itself due to the precision of the symbols and aesthetics employed to evoke this significance. I would even prefer it to Half Life 2 in this reading of the political and the Meta as both interconnected because of the synthesis.
The way this plays out so simply, with no more than what is needed to tell its story, instead of extending itself to a duration that would conform to what is expected, feels almost “anti-commercial” (as much as an accessible, mainstream game can be) in its attempt. Two hours of content, a main story and that’s it. This was something that, when I first played it, underwhelmed me about the work because it felt like it was offering too little in comparison to the standards of what a game offers. However, is exactly that what compels me so much about this and makes me prefer it to its sequel.
Portal 2 might expand on the concepts and might give more to the player to extend the life of the title, but in my opinion it feel like a sequel that tries to replace the original by giving the same but More. More story, more characters, more puzzles, more tools, more Lore, more duration, more play modes, more everything. It’s a way of creating sequels that feels uncomfortable to me because it presumes video-games as a commodity to constantly improve on rather than as pieces of art to revisit, which is something that Valve’s sequels (except for Half Life 2) suffer from.
On the other hand, Portal is comfortable being concise. Making every element memorable rather than trying to saturate the experience. And it makes it feel like more artistic and sincere in its exploration of thematic ideas and ludic concepts (using the first person format for a genre like puzzles, using the mechanics of Half Life to explore and figure out rather than to make your way killing). And is the kind of simplicity that makes its speech more convincing, more so when comparing it to Half Life 2 that runs into some contradiction due to how it is designed.
Honestly, games should learn from this that not all stories need to be extensive, and sometimes brevity can be your virtue.
The greatest demo ever made.
The King of the innovation, its just perfect. The story its simple but entertaining and the level desing its awesome. The Diamond in the valve vault.
It's ok Zek.
Enjoyable puzzle gameplay that could be a lot better.
Jogo muito bom história quase que perfeita gráficos mediano até na época,mas mesmo assim nn deixa de ser um jogo maravilhoso
Perfect four hours and hilarious lovable gameplay
Rap music Icon
One of the few games I would consider without flaws, the simple gameplay mixed with good puzzles and amazing dialogue make this a must play for everyone
legal mas sei la puzzle é coisa de nerd
Very creative, funny dialogue, intriguing story (although vague), interesting puzzles, wow
it's portal, come on
Great game, genuinely frustrating at parts ngl, but a solid piece of media. I would reccomend not just playing it cause its history but also cause youll love it. Cant reccomend enough.
i should finish...
Hilarious, simple, and consistently engaging. The only flaw is that there isn't more of it.
punch yourself in the face with the portal bet that wouldnt feel good now would it
I've played it time and time again over the years and it continues to be a thouorougly enjoyable game.
i remember this game be good
Such a simple to understand yet wonderfully enjoyable game. The only problem is that it isn't longer!
The perfect short-but-sweet game that doesn't outstay it's welcome, a truly innovative title that arguably changed the face of gaming.
Portal is innovative, memorable, and is one of the best written games ever made. It's a shame it's so short... if only there were a sequel to rectify that!
Wasn't blown away, but that's likely because I came up in a world of games influenced by it's amazing and innovative puzzle design.
One of the standouts of the 2000s
Fantastic title. Just the right length, funny, fun to play.
More of a fan to the second game.
i liked it but i dont really remember a lot of it beyond the big meme
Replaying this in 2020 and I genuinely feel like it has not age a day.
Everything to say about this game has already been said. It's a fun and unique puzzle game even to this day, over a decade after its release, and will leave you feeling fulfilled despite its short run time.
Give it a go, Valve basically gives this game away on Steam and it can be run on basically any modern computer, I remember the first time I played this was on an awful dingy little laptop and I got by just fine at 30FPS.
Only complaint is that replayability isn't really high for me with this one. Once I've beaten a puzzle, that's kind of it for me, and anytime I go back it's just too simple and I get bored. But, for the current price it normally goes for, that's not really an issue.
puzzles done good
The game that birthed a million Redditors.
I mean it's good, right? They made a good game? Congratulations. You made a video game that ruined humor for a solid few years. I hope you're proud of yourselves.
Truly a game that transformed an era. Constantly on sale on Steam, there's no excuse for it not to be in our library. The game is the perfect length for what it is, considering there isn't much narrative to be explored in this first entry. There are some brain scratchers in here, but you'll get used to "thinking with portals".
Smart and awesome gameplay. Last part's narrative was very good. It is an ESSENTIAL game for everyone.
Playing through this was a mixture of frustration and eurika moments. It's one of the few games that are genuinely funny. The puzzles were challenging and satisfying. The game's length was great as it didn't overstay its welcome and left me wanting more.
good fucking shit
Fun puzzle game, made me feel like a genius whilst playing it.
Portal tem a duração certa para um gameplay fantástico, com uma antagonista que dá todo o carisma do jogo. Mecânica simplesmente fantástica e única, um marco na história dos videogames. Experiência maravilhosa em todos os sentidos.
This game is an exercise in efficient design. It makes for one the most compelling games and one of the most compelling narratives with So. Damn. Little. It's just absurd. Valve *really* established themselves as worthy of critical attention after this one.
Witty writing and even wittier gameplay. A must play for anyone out there.
Portal is one of the greatest "proof of concepts" ever to hit shelves, notable for its mind-bending puzzle mechanics and humorous narrator. The game takes a while to present any true challenge, yet each puzzle seems like it could be conquered any number of ways, and leaves the player satisfied with their own solution. Unfortunately, on the PS3, Portal seems to have gotten little love--there are no patched-in trophies, and the game constantly resets to long load times that don't seem to match the hardware demands of the game!
They did it. Those bastards did it. They made the perfect video game, and then they made it again nearly just as perfect.
O único problema de Portal 1 é que ele acaba muito rápido, porque, de resto, um dos jogos que definiram a década!
Completed the single player campaign in 2009, and a few times after. The cake memes and end song I found tedious and grating after a while, but ultimately, this is a fine game.
Short and sweet
im strugglin' to find words to describe perfection. seriously, i cannot find a single flaw with this game.
Bastante buen puzzle, la pelea final fue bastante piola